Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Develop alternatives for patients for whom routine red cell transfusion is unavailable or impractical

There is a compelling need to advance research to understand the physiology governing the safety and efficacy of hemoglobin-based oxygen therapeutics functioning outside the red cell.

Submitted by (@chintamani.atreya)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Adequate numbers of red blood cells are required to sustain human life. Neurocognitive deficits and mortality in acutely anemic humans increase significantly at a hemoglobin level of below 5 g/dL even in the absence of significant cardiovascular disease. At extremely low hemoglobin levels, alternative treatments (supplemental or hyperbaric oxygen, sedation, muscle paralysis and mechanical ventilation) are of only limited benefit and are not without risk. Several classes of patients cannot be routinely transfused with red blood cells. These classes of patients for whom blood is not an option would include patients who will not accept transfusion for religious or personal reasons, patients who due to multiple prior transfusions have developed red cell antibodies without the option for compatible red cells, and massive trauma patients needing treatment in a remote location. The development of cell-free hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers, stable at room temperature and not requiring cross-matching prior to transfusion as a red cell substitute, has been a sought after goal for several decades, yet to date all attempts have met with failure during clinical trials. There is a compelling need to advance research to understand the physiology governing the safety and efficacy of hemoglobin-based oxygen therapeutics functioning outside the red cell.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Multiple physiologic insults and adverse events seen with earlier modified hemoglobins, compared to banked red blood cells, have been described and are now better, but not completely, understood. Advances in hemoglobin modification could allow for successful use in a variety of clinical scenarios with life-saving results. Additional clinical indications could be investigated and established, such as identification of clinical situations where additional oxygen delivery could modulate the effects of chronic ischemic conditions. In addition, the hemoglobin molecule could be modified to deliver additional therapeutic benefit.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Office of Blood Research and Review, CBER, FDA

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8 net votes
13 up votes
5 down votes
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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Stem Cell Biology

There is a need to develop an artificial and functional hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche that allows for the expansion of repopulating HSCs.

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Methods to expand hematopoietic stem cells have continued to be examined extensively because stem cell numbers in the graft are important for clinical outcomes following transplantation. These numbers are particularly relevant in umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation, where low numbers of stem cells are directly related to delayed hematopoietic and immune reconstitution. Improved HSC expansion strategies may significantly impact transplantation outcome, enabling broader applications beyond UCB transplantation. Furthermore, these strategies are also needed to realize the full therapeutic potential of genome editing technologies to correct hematopoietic stem cells derived from patients with hematologic disorders. Since efforts to expand HSCs in cytokine-supported liquid cultures have been largely unsuccessful, efficient expansion will require an appropriate context that is provided by the hematopoietic stem cell niche. Future studies must also evaluate how niche signals regulate stem cell function to optimize cell expansion, and proper humanized mouse models must be developed to help predict stem cell function and regulation by the niche.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Alice Kuaban on behalf of the American Society of Hematology (ASH)

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28 net votes
46 up votes
18 down votes
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Goal 1: Promote Human Health

Causes of blood clotting in lungs

What causes blood clotting in the lungs, and what are its side effects?

Submitted by (@nhlbiforumadministrator1)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Joseph Erikitai

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-3 net votes
10 up votes
13 down votes
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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

How can we non-invasively, but still accurately, measure blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries?

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a complex, progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs. The gold standard for measuring pressures in the pulmonary arteries is a right heart catheterization, where a special catheter is guided through the right side of the heart and into the pulmonary artery, the main vessel carrying blood to the lungs. This measurement is essential, as it allows physicians and ...more »

Submitted by (@katherinek)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

i. In patients with pulmonary hypertension, the use of multiple tests to characterize the type and severity has long been recommended by global experts; one commonly used diagnostic algorithm recommends more than ten different tests to accurately define this complex, heterogeneous disease. Despite the algorithm used, to confirm a diagnosis of one specific type of PH, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), one must always directly measure the pressures in the heart and pulmonary artery through a right heart catheterization (RHC). Complications for this procedure are rare, but not non-existent with potentially 1 in every 100 patients having a right heart catheterization experiencing a serious adverse event (Hoeper MM 2006). Patients would significantly benefit from a non-invasive method of quantifying their pulmonary artery pressures and/or disease progression, but to date this has not been possible with echocardiography due to measurement errors (Laver 2014), CT scan due in part to measurement inconsistencies (Alhamad 2011), and cardiac MRI due to lack of standardization and multicenter trials (Peacock 2013). Not only would wider utilization of a non-invasive method of measuring pulmonary artery pressures and disease progression potentially reduce the risk from RHC, depending on the modality it could lead to earlier diagnosis of this progressive disease and/or application in countries where RHC is less common.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Addressing a non-invasive method of measuring pulmonary artery pressures requires investment in both technology and multicenter clinical trials to validate these measures.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Katherine Kroner, Michael Patrick Gray, PHA

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67 net votes
75 up votes
8 down votes
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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Apheresis Medicine in the Management of Sickle Cell Disease

Despite advances in care, patients with sickle cell disease have significant morbidity and mortality. One challenge is the optimal use of simple vs exchange transfusion vs no transfusion when managing these patients. Simple transfusions lead to iron overload while exchange transfusions may expose patients to increase numbers of red blood cell units. The mechanism of benefit from transfusion (oxygen delivery vs marrow ...more »

Submitted by (@bsachais)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

SCD is the most common genetic disease in the United States affecting 100,000 individuals or 1 in 400 African American births. Pain, stroke, acute chest syndrome and priapism are common morbidities affecting patients with sickle cell disease, which often result in emergency room visits and/or hospitalizations. Despite advances in treatment, sickle cell disease is associated with significant mortality and shortened life expectancy. Defining the optimal role of red blood cell exchange and plasma exchange (which may be used to remove plasma molecules such as inflammatory factors and free hemoglobin) in the management and prevention of the complications of sickle cell disease and may not only prolong the life of these patients but is expected to improve the quality of their lives. In addition, clearly defining the indications for simple verses exchange transfusion therapy has the potential to minimize both alloimmunization to red blood cells (reported to occur in up to 75% of patients with sickle cell disease) and iron overload associated with transfusion.

 

Transfusion therapy may be efficacious to sickle cell patients by providing increased oxygen delivery to tissues and/or decreasing the amount of sickle hemoglobin present by suppression of erythropoiesis. Understanding the relative contributions of these mechanisms will assist with optimal use of transfusion therapy as well as inform the development of novel alternative therapies

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Multi-center trials should be feasible, given the number of patients with sickle cell disease in the US. Participation by larger academic centers which care for sickle cell patients should facilitate trials. Methods for automated red cell exchange and plasma exchange are available and in common use at many centers. Great interest exists among physicians caring for sickle cell patients (as exemplified by the recent NIH consensus document and ASFA sickle cell consensus conference) which is a strength of this proposal. Challenges include agreement on standard treatment protocols across centers and long term follow up of patients. Maintaining vascular access in sickle cell patients is another challenge when performing apheresis procedures on sickle cell patients

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Bruce Sachais on behalf of ASFA

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130 net votes
152 up votes
22 down votes
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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

The potency and safety of transfusable red blood cells

Can we identify approaches to improve potency and/or safety of transfusable RBCs? 42 day pre-transfusion storage of RBCs maximizes utilization, while minimizing waste. However, RBCs undergo changes during collection, manipulation and storage that may reduce their potency or safety. Progress in understanding markers that predict transfusion success at the time of collection and with storage remains slow. New technologies ...more »

Submitted by (@nareg.roubinian)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

While novel RBC storage methods have been described, the mechanisms underlying their efficacy has not been defined, a step that will be important for further improvements in this area. Some of these methods appear to improve efficacy of the RBC bioenergetic pathways; however, to date there have not been notable advances in reducing cytoskeletal defects common in stored RBCs. The development of new RBC preservation methods that minimize the impact of the storage lesion on specific areas of concern (e.g., diminished oxidation/peroxidation, decreased membrane fragility) is needed.

 

Use of ex vivo generated RBCs is an alternative to conventional donor-derived RBCs which can potentially improve product consistency, reduce the storage lesion, and improve safety. However, advances are needed before this approach is feasible on a large scale. While the development of blood substitutes including blood pharming will likely require more than 3-10 years before it can be ready for the clinic, Blood Pharming from hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells is now technically feasible and the recent development of genome editing methods suggests the exciting possibility of generating GMP compliant “immortal” stem cell sources to produce transfusable RBCs.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Research should include both pre-clinical and clinical studies to define optimal combinations of known factors preserving red cells (e.g. hypo-osmolarity, energy sources, antioxidants), and the development of methods for RBC pathogen reduction that do not increase the storage lesion.

 

Procedures for generating blood cells from cultured stem/progenitor cells is not currently cost-effective, limiting near term applications to special patient populations such as specific RBC phenotyping of rare donors for chronically transfused patients. Areas of research needed to advance the development of blood substitutes and blood pharming include: (a) new approaches to blood substitutes including artificial oxygen carriers generated from red cell lysates/components or engineered from combinatorial chemico-biological approaches (e.g., derivatization of hemoglobin, encapsidation of modulated oxygen carriers); (b) a better understanding of the biological properties of cultured RBCs with the goal of reducing blood pharming costs; (c) optimizing methods to expand stem cell populations while allowing differentiation to selected clinically relevant blood cell populations at clinically relevant levels; and (d) optimizing methodologies that faithfully replicate embryonic development to develop the cells of interest.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Nareg Roubinian, MD and Naomi Luban, MD for the NHLBI State of the Science in Transfusion Medicine

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14 net votes
31 up votes
17 down votes
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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Evidence based approaches to Red Blood Cell transfusion

What are the optimal RBC transfusion thresholds for adult and pediatric cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy regimens that may improve functional status and quality of life?

Submitted by (@nareg.roubinian)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Cancer patients undergo intensive medical and surgical therapies to treat their underlying disease. Treatment commonly results in anemia requiring RBC and platelet transfusions to support the patient through the hypoproliferative phase of chemotherapy. This is particularly true for those patients requiring hematopoetic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Following therapy, cancer outpatients commonly receive RBC transfusions for weeks to months to maintain their functional status.

 

Common causes of death in patients with hematological malignancies and other cancers are infections and bleeding. A meta-analysis of clinical trials suggested that liberal transfusion is associated with greater risk of infection. Conversely, restrictive transfusion could adversely affect quality of life and functional status in oncology populations. In addition, pre-clinical and clinical studies support that concomitant anemia and thrombocytopenia significantly compound bleeding risk, and that hemostasis can be optimized in thrombocytopenia by maintaining a higher hematocrit. Although bleeding risks in relation to platelet transfusion thresholds are well studied in patients with hematological malignancy, optimal hemoglobin levels in thrombocytopenic patients are not known. Despite the significant allocation of blood components to cancer patients as a whole, RBC transfusion practices are not well studied within this group.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Randomized controlled clinical trials and other studies investigating optimal transfusion thresholds and other measures of practice are required to provide health care providers with evidence to guide one of the most common therapies administered in the setting of malignancy. The clinically important end points of well-designed studies could include: 1) quality of life and functional status for both inpatients and outpatients; 2) neurocognitive development in pediatric populations; 3) bleeding events / bleeding scores; 4) impact on immunity including immunomodulation and infection; 5) reconstitution of hematopoiesis; and 6) survival and/or recurrence of disease.. Besides a generalizable study population, certain target populations of interest are those with high risk disease, HSCT patients, patients undergoing radiation therapy, and pediatric patients.

 

There are >1.6 million new cases of cancer annually in the USA, including >50,000 with leukemia and >6,000 with HSCT. Cancer therapies are rapidly advancing in the era of genomics and immunotherapy. Capitalizing on the tradition of research in cancer, single and multicenter studies of RBC transfusion are feasible using randomized controlled designs in conjunction with clinical trials of chemotherapeutic regimens. The results of these studies will impact a large patient population’s quality of life, and may ultimately impact healthcare cost and blood demand.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Nareg Roubinian, MD and Naomi Luban, MD for the 2015 NHLBI State of the Science in Transfusion Medicine

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43 net votes
61 up votes
18 down votes
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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Genome Profiling

How can proper infrastructure be designed to host sequencing data from hematologic diseases so as to enable its efficient interpretation and use in clinical care?

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Accurate and consistent analysis of genetic data is crucial for both basic research and clinical applications, however, the complexity of sequence mutations in several blood disorders as well as the immense amounts of raw data produced during the sequencing and analysis process, make accurate bioinformatics analysis a challenge. Furthermore, the lack of consistency in the analysis of the non-coding genome and variations in correlating this information with transcriptional and epigenetic data pose an additional challenge in obtaining a comprehensive portrait of various hematologic diseases. To overcome these challenges, content-rich portals that can offer cost-effective and regulated access to raw genomic data for interrogating and sharing sequencing results without compromising patient privacy must be designed. Also, the biologic and clinical relevance of genetic alterations found in these portals must be reliable and sufficiently comprehensive in order to foster proper interpretation.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Alice Kuaban on behalf of the American Society of Hematology (ASH)

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-8 net votes
10 up votes
18 down votes
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Goal 1: Promote Human Health

Role of the lymphatic system in heart, lung, blood, sleep health and diseases

What is the role of lymphatic system in normal function of the heart? Do dysfunctional lymphatics contribute to heart failure? Do lymphatics have a role in recovery after MI? It has been reported that lymphatic vasculature transport HDL during reverse cholesterol transfer. Do lymphatics have a role in atherosclerosis? What is the contribution of lymphatic system to asthma or COPD? Does the lymphatic system contribute ...more »

Submitted by (@nhlbiforumadministrator1)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Understanding how lymphatic system contributes to normal physiology of heart, lung, blood, sleep systems will help also lead to new approaches for treatment of heart, lung, blood, sleep diseases.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Basic understanding of the development and hemodynamics of the lymphatic system and reagents to study the lymphatic function are available.

Lymphatic vasculature is essential for fluid hemostasis in the body, collects and returns the protein- and lipid-rich interstitial fluid to blood circulation, and also involved in immune cell trafficking and inflammation. Given these important physiological roles, function of the lymphatic system is expected to contribute to normal physiology of organs and its dysfunction to major diseases. There is very little or no information how the lymphatic system contribute to health and diseases of the cardiovascular, pulmonary and blood systems, and there are many unanswered questions. Answers to these questions may lead to new approaches for treatment of major HLB diseases. Main challenge is to get heart, lung, blood, sleep investigators interested in studying the contribution of the lymphatic system to heart, lung, blood, sleep health and diseases.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : NHLBI Staff

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50 net votes
77 up votes
27 down votes
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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Biology of Red Blood Cell Alloimmunization

What determines which individuals will develop RBC alloimmune responses resulting in clinically meaningful sequelae? This question encompasses: 1) the generation of alloantibodies that limit the availability of compatible blood or cause hemolytic disease of the fetus or newborn (HDFN); 2) the distinction between clinically significant and insignificant alloantibody responses, especially within alloantibody specificities ...more »

Submitted by (@nareg.roubinian)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Humans exposed to RBC alloantigens, following therapeutic transfusion or in pregnancy following maternal exposure to fetal RBCs, can generate humoral alloantibodies capable of leading to hemolytic transfusion reaction, (HTR), or of leading to HDFN. RBC transfusions can also induce autoantibodies, and can lead to hyperhemolysis. It is poorly understood why some patients mount a detectable alloantibody response (“responders”), whereas others do not (“non-responders”). Within the responder population, alloantibodies may be categorized as “clinically significant” or “clinically insignificant”, based upon whether the resultant specific alloantibodies have been previously reported to cause HTR or HDFN. However, incompatible transfusion will only result in meaningful in vivo hemolysis in some patients, even with antibody specificities classified as clinically significant.

 

The ability to define responder/non-responder status before initial RBC exposure has the potential to: 1) decrease rates of RBC alloimmunization in responders through the provision of extended matched RBCs for initial and subsequent RBC exposure; 2) conserve valuable antigen negative RBC units for patients who will derive the greatest benefit; 3) conserve transfusion service resources in terms of time spent identifying antibodies and procuring antigen negative RBC units; and 4) decrease rates of HTR and HDFN.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Patients with hemoglobinopathies, especially those with SCD and thalassemia, have high rates of RBC alloimmunization and thus are important target populations for these studies. The impact of methods to reduce RBC antigen exposure or pathogen inactivation on neoantigen development remains unknown. The health impact of addressing the question of RBC alloimmunization is that the discovery of mechanistic underpinnings will provide a rational basis for the development and translation of novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, with a goal of increasing transfusion safety.

 

Though these questions are unlikely to be completely answered within the next 3-10 years, existing and emerging immunohematology and genomics tools, evolving sophistication of animal models, and existing and novel systems for human studies including donor-recipient repositories have the potential to increase the understanding of when and how alloimmunity to RBCs evolves, in what contexts it is clinically significant—even life-threatening—and how this important, but currently challenging and poorly understood condition, might be prevented and/or mitigated.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Nareg Roubinian, MD and Naomi Luban, MD for the 2015 NHLBI State of the Science in Transfusion Medicine

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44 net votes
58 up votes
14 down votes
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Goal 1: Promote Human Health

Iron Loss after Blood Donation and Its Effect on Donors’ Health

What is the effect of donation-induced iron deficiency on blood donor health?

Submitted by (@anne.eder)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Blood donation removes iron, and frequent blood donors commonly have low or absent iron stores. Donation frequency remains the strongest predictor of iron depletion among all donors, after controlling for body mass, race/ethnicity, and polymorphisms affecting iron metabolism. Less well documented is the effect of iron depletion on blood donor health and well-being. Iron deficiency may have a broad spectrum of physical and neurologic consequences, including impaired work capacity, altered cognitive function, pica and restless legs syndrome. The prevalence, duration, and severity of these conditions in blood donor populations are poorly elucidated. In contrast, modest iron deficits may be protective against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Some investigators have demonstrated the feasibility to connect donor information with clinical databases to study whether donation behavior and iron status have long-term consequences for donor health.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Studying the short-term clinical impact of donation-induced iron deficiency presents logistical and methodological challenges. Many outcomes of interest are not observable by blood center staff under routine procedures; further, such studies are subject to selection bias due to donor failure to return to donate following low hemoglobin deferral or adverse outcomes they associate with donation. However, given the size and demographic diversity of donor populations, even uncommon outcomes can be successfully studied under a multi-center approach. A prospective approach that doesn’t condition enrollment or completion of the study on return to donate, may avoid the methodological pitfalls. A wide array of clinical or neurological outcomes can feasibly be studied with sufficient blood centers and/or donor follow-up.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Dana Devine PhD and Anne Eder MD PhD for the 2015 NHLBI State of the Science in Transfusion Medicine

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3 net votes
19 up votes
16 down votes
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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Genome Profiling

What structural changes need to be implemented in the health-care community in order to support the use of genomic information in clinical trials and drug development for hematologic diseases?

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

In various blood disorders, including hematologic malignancies, there are both inherited and somatic genetic alterations that contribute to predisposition, transformation, disease progression, responsiveness to therapy, and treatment complications. The presence of such genetic alterations underscore the need for the identification of rare but traceable mutations as well as the integration of such genomic information into clinical trials. By implementing a few structural changes in the healthcare sector, a clinical trial infrastructure can be established that accounts for proper application of sequencing technology. Some examples include the creation of genome diagnostic networks that address accrual of sufficient patients, procurement of suitable tumor/non-tumor material for sequencing, as well as pharmacodynamic and correlative biology studies in hematologic diseases.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Alice Kuaban on behalf of the American Society of Hematology (ASH)

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11 net votes
22 up votes
11 down votes
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